Our nation's two dominant political parties are both hosting their conventions this month to determine their presidential candidates. First, the Republican National Committee will host its delegates in Cleveland from July 18-21, followed by the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia from July 25-28. In an election year in which two unpopular candidates have clinched the majority of the votes from their respective parties, unity among said parties is not a given. The point of conventions for Republicans and Democrats, though, is to come to a consensus on a candidate through various rounds of voting, as well as vote on a party platform and establish a few party rules.
The actual stakes of a political convention vary. If no single candidate is able to secure a majority of votes, then a "brokered convention" may occur. As presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump have both secured their needed majority, 2016 will not be the year of brokered conventions. So what's the point?
For many Republicans, there appears to be no point. A former aide to Mitt Romney, Ryan Williams, noted: "Republican political operatives are not excited about the nominee, and they don’t believe it will be a worthwhile convention to attend.” Other key Republican political figures share the same sentiment and are limiting their involvement or opting out completely so as to not show Trump any of their support.
Though each party might have appeared to already agree on their nominee, each party's platform and party rules voting might cause a stir. The GOP hasn't yet decided its proposed stance on various LGBT issues, from marriage to transgender bathroom rights, among other potential contentious subjects. By comparison, the Democratic platform, which has been described as "most progressive platform" in the party's history, has been thoroughly drafted. At the end of the day, though, there's no way to enforce the party's platform on a candidate, as the candidate is not at all bound by the decided platform.
The best-case convention scenario for both Clinton and Trump are conventions resulting in party unity rather than party division. In Clinton's case, this is likely, as she's been endorsed by former nominee Bernie Sanders. Trump's odds, on the other hand, are just as unpredictable as always. As The Wall Street Journal explains, a Trump-centered Republican National Convention offers an "opportunity for activists to either embrace his positions as the new stamp of the party, or offer a formal resistance."
Regardless, the conventions offer insight into how our country's political system is run, the extent of which is not always apparent to the general public in non-election years. Follow the Democratic Convention's Twitter account and the GOP'S Convention account to stay on top of it all — this year's not one you want to miss.